Tag Archives: climbing northern spain

La Hermida climbing guide review by Mike Owen

It’s out! The guidebook to Spain’s best-kept secret and one of the best summer climbing venues in Europe. Had enough of going to the usual places and you fancy a change? Fed up of the crowds, the heat and the polished routes? Look no further, the crags in this book have got everything you’re looking for.

El Desfiladero de la Hermida covers the climbing centred around the village of La Hermida, which is located in the gorge called El Desfiladero de la Hermida that runs north/south through the eastern end of the picturesque Picos de Europa, from Panes to Potes, on the border between Cantabria and Asturias.

El valle de La Hermida - The La hermida valley...

El valle de La Hermida – The La hermida valley…

This is a really beautiful part of Spain; known as “green Spain” due to the abundance of vegetation as a result of the maritime climate, the scenery is simply stunning. The topography is classic karst limestone. The gorge has very steep sides that are riddled with rocky gullies that lead up to high craggy peaks with breath taking views. There are crags everywhere and the potential for more development is obvious. It gets even better; the summer temperatures are typically in the mid-twenties, which make such a pleasant change compared to many parts in Europe. In fact a normal season here extends from late spring (as the tufas dry out) until early winter, when the first of the rain which keeps the valleys so green arrives. Though the addition of many quick-drying, walls and slabs outside the main valley means that there should be something to get on all year round.

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it's Orujo de Liébana, 7c

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it’s Orujo de Liébana, 7c

There is plenty to do on rest days; just a 30 minute drive away is the coast with the possibility of surfing the Atlantic swell. Alternatively, there are numerous paths that can take you up into the heart of the Picos de Europa or you can take the cable car up to the most famous mountain in the area, the Naranjo de Bulnes. If all of the above activities sound too strenuous, you may just prefer to go and relax at the climbers bar in La Hermida (La Cuadrono) and sample Chucho and Angela’s wonderful hospitality. However, if you’re staying in Potes, try the climbers bar (La Reunion) and sample some of their home made beers or enjoy a nice cheap coffee (don’t forget this is Spain, so prices are always very reasonable).

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

For years there have been rumours of great climbing in this part of Northern Spain but information was always scarce. Then three years ago Richie Patterson published the excellent Roca Verde, a selective topo covering some of the crags in Cantabria, Asturias and Leon. As a result the area started to receive more attention, justifiably so. Due to this new found popularity Richie, in collaboration with the local Cantabrian climbers, has put this definitive guidebook together, specifically covering all of the new (or previously hidden) crags in the La Hermida valley, and what a guidebook it is.

The first thing you will notice when you flick through La Desfiladero de la Hermida is the attention to detail that has been put into the presentation and that it is written in Spanish and English. The introduction is concise, yet has all the necessary information you need, including a very clear general map, where to stay and what the topo symbols mean. There is an interesting section on ‘Geography and Wildlife’ as well as a very important section on ‘Access and Etiquette’.

Mike Owen in action at Rumenes...

Mike Owen in action at Rumenes…

Each crag has its own introduction, including the style of climbing, orientation regarding the sun, walk in times and access map with GPS coordinates. The topos are very accurately drawn on clear colour photos and printed on top quality paper. All pitch lengths are given. However there are no stars. The authors don’t want climbers to be drawn towards particular routes, with the result that they become polished and end up with queues during busy periods, they want you to find out for yourself and have fun doing so. The action photos are some of the best I have seen in a climbing guide and really do give you that all important first impression; in other words they fire you up, your fingers start to sweat and you start mentally planning how to get there as soon as possible.

The valley is already quite well known for its amazing tufas at steep crags such as Rumenes and El Infierno. However, this is not just an area that suits climbers operating in the big numbers because what is not so well known, is the fact that there are also many crags that offer really enjoyable climbing at a more reasonable standard in equally impressive surroundings. In fact much of the new guide is taken up with crags with amenable grades that should allow mixed parties to enjoy the valley more; making a morning cranking on tufas followed by an afternoon on the slabs (or vice versa) a practical option!

The guide includes a total of 32 crags, of which 24 are published for the first time, including the jaw-dropping Cueva Carcalosa (which will soon become internationally important for those seeking long steep voyages in tufa paradise) and the long established, but nonetheless previously secret, Cicera (with its wealth of demanding crimpy climbing in the summer shade).  La Desfiladero de la Hermida is in A5 format, has 176 pages and almost 700 routes to choose from III+ to 8c+ and offers great value at £20. Please bear in mind that it is the only definitive guide and purchasing it will help contribute towards future equipping in the area. After you’ve been climbing, don’t forget to have a beer at La Cuadrona, followed by a swim in the hot springs up the road.

My advice: skip Ceuse this summer, buy this topo, book your ferry. Job done!

El Desfiladero de La Hermida is published by Roca Verde and available direct from www.rocaverdeclimbing.com

Gema Lanza,  7a, El Salmón

Gema Lanza, 7a, El Salmón

7b+ to 8b+ in one year…#1

Can an old dog learn some new tricks…?

That was the question I set myself a while ago when I embarked on a mission to move from my grade of 7b+ and to try to climb the ‘magic’ grade of 8b+ – and all in less than a year…

So with the help of Lattice Training and some other cool people  including the amazing Steve McClure I set off down a road of a years training to try to complete my mission…

Pipe dream, mid-life crisis, I’m not sure…but it was a lot of fun…

 

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras... Alex López,
Ritmo caribeño,
F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

Cicera – Crags of La Hermida #1

A world-class venue, and possibly the crag that everyone´s been waiting for more than any other, Cicera has a selection of brilliant climbs on perfect rock. Sitting opposite, and complementing almost perfectly the ludicrous tufas of Carcalosa, the main sector is only slightly overhanging making for technical and very pumpy wall climbing.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

It’s a mix of grey and orange rock with good friction and mainly long or very long routes. For those climbing in the high 7s and 8s there’s an endless supply of testpieces and, unlike much of the valley, it’s a venue where finger strength and climbing ability take precedence over big arms!

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras... Alex López, Ritmo caribeño, F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras… Alex López,
Ritmo caribeño, F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

In addition, the lower crag provides more entertainment in it’s own style with grey almost ‘Verdon-like’ fingery slabs and some tough, shorter roofs.

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos...One of the brilliant wall climbs on the lower crag...

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos…One of the brilliant wall climbs on the lower crag…

The familiar theme is the lack of easier climbs but with such high-quality routes it’s easy to forgive.

Routes Summary
V+ – 6c+ = 4
7a – 7c+ = 28
8a – 8c+ = 23

Another view of the lower crag, this time a super cool 7a, Corbatas de Unquera.

Another view of the lower crag, this time a super cool 7a, Corbatas de Unquera.

Children: Fine for older children but quite a long walk in and steep underneath.

Season: Usefully, the upper crag is almost never in the sun so it’s great through the summer and can also get a good breeze in late afternoon. The lack of sun does mean it can be cold in late autumn and spring and once wet it does seep a bit and can take a while to dry – though there are plenty of routes which stay dry all year. Overall it’s a very reliable venue for good conditions.

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it's Orujo de Liébana, 7c

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it’s Orujo de Liébana, 7c

 

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

La Hermida – A quick guide to the best of ‘tufaland’…

In our new guide to La Hermida we reveal a bunch of great new spots and many of them have one thing in common…

Brilliant tufas.

So much so, that after her visit Caroline Ciavaldini christened the area ‘tufaland’…and it’s true that for the addict of this type of climbing there’s tons to go at.

So I thought it’d be a nice idea to rate the crags in terms of their overall ‘tufaness’ – the old and the new crags – to give a hit-list of venues.

1. Carcalosa – Just for the scale of the left wall Carcalosa has to be number one. An amazing crag and a ton of tufas to get stuck into – maybe the highlight being Dimensiones Paralela, 7c+, the super-obvious ‘train line’ tufas on the right wall.

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

2. Rumenes – Even with the emergence of other crags this is still some of the best tufa climbing around – and the first time the top wall is seen nearly everyone gasps; some in shock and some in delight!!

3. El Infierno – Like a supercharged Rumenes this is a wall simply covered in tufas. There’s possibly less ‘easy routes’, with the grades starting at 7a and above but this is a great venue and has shade in the afternoon…

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

4. Estraguena – All the routes apart from one take tufas at some point and strangely for a tufa crag none of the routes seem that steep.  The routes have a good length and the grades are good for the ego and for onsighting too…

5. Cueva Hermida – Very good new venue – and the only downsides are that there are very few easy routes and that there’s not a huge amount either. A steep wall turns into a roof and the climbing is powerful and pumpy.

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

6. Cueva Corazón – Classic hardcore tufa/roof venue. Lots of top level challenges here in a superb atmospheric spot.

7. Pechón – Sea-side climbing with a good smattering of tufas thrown in. What could be better?

8. El Salmón – Not totally a tufa crag but the central section of the main wall has some really good, short mid-grade tufas and on the bottom wall there’s some steep, exciting routes too.

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

9. Cicera – Maybe known more for the wall-climbing rather than the tufas this still has plenty of impressive lines. Atlantis, Pacifis, and Veneno azul are all great.

10. Parelosa – Not all tufas but what there are have plenty to offer – possibly the best being Relatividad, 7c+. The whole crag needs a bit of traffic but it will be a popular hardcore venue…

11. El Lado Oscuro – Only a few tufa routes but of very high-quality and both Museo Coconut, 7c, and Gretaline, 8a+, are stunning.

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

You can buy our new guide here… http://bit.ly/BuyLaHermida

And you can watch our video of James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini in action at Carcalosa here:  http://bit.ly/RocaVerdeRoadTrip_1

 

Caldueño – new crag in the east of Asturias…

There are loads of great new crags which have been published for the first time in any guide in the new edition of Roca Verde.

Caldueño is one and I am happy to be able to do so as I climbed there quite a bit before there were any topos. So thanks to the equippers Dani Bajo and Jorge Fernández there’s a great new crag close to Arenas and Llanes.  There’s a summary here but you can get it all  in the new book bit.ly/BuyRocaVerde2

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Recently overhauled, though opened a long time ago, Caldueño is a good all-round venue with perhaps the highlight being a bunch of long slab routes. One attraction here is that there’s shade across the day so you can move between sectors to make the most of the conditions. Aviados and Pared del Sol are very accessible though the approach is steep, while the sectors set higher in a big gully are a bit of a hike.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

However, there are enough decent routes to make the extra ten minutes worth it. The rock is generally very good but it’s worth noting that on Dos Setas it feels a bit suspect in places. Overall the bolting and belays are very good too with the odd exception. The crag needs traffic but once clean offers good climbing.
The situation is superb and the tranquility of the valley makes it a great place to spend a day – it’s well worth a visit.

Children: Although a bit of a steep walk both Aviados + Pared del Sol are ok but the rest are steep underneath.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Season: Due to the variety of orientations this is a good summer venue, and because it’s also quite sheltered it can be good on sunny days in spring and autumn. The slabs stay pretty dry and are ok on sunny winter days too. However, Ombligo and Dos Setas do get wet.
Bird Restrictions – climbing is banned on all routes from 1st March until 31st July.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

 

Escalada en Caldueño – nueva escuela de escalada en el oriente de Asturias

Caldueño es una de las escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía. Y porque he escalado alli muchas veces antes que habia croquis estoy tan feliz de estrenarlo en Roca Verde edición 2…gracias a los equipadores Daniel Bajo y Jorge Fernández. Comprar Roca Verde edición 2 aquí..

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Caldueño es una escuela considerablemente buena y muy versátil. Situada bastante cerca de Arenas, un poco más al oeste y hacia el norte (muy interesantes para los escaladores con base en Llanes o las costas), y hay cinco excelentes sectores reseñados  todas ellas con vías de grado variado.
Una cosa muy importante hay prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vías – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Aunque no es nueva, recientemente ha sido rescatada del olvido. Tal vez lo más destacado sean las excelentes y largas vías de placa. También es interesante por su orientación, que permite escoger entre sol y sombra según el sector.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

La aproximación al Aviados y Pared del Sol es bastante sencilla pero empinada; para llegar a los sectores situados arriba en la ancha canal hay que caminar 10/15 minutos más, pero vale la pena por la cantidad de vías buenas. La roca es en general excelente, aunque en Dos Setas a veces no lo parece. Los seguros y reuniones están en buenas condiciones, con alguna excepción.

Aunque harán falta más ascensiones para que las vías queden limpias, la escalada está muy bien, y además cabe sumar la fantástica ubicación de la zona y la tranquilidad de este valle, que bien vale una visita. No hemos incluido todos los sectores ni todas las vías.

Puedes ver la location de la escuela aqui…

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Niños: Aunque el camino es un poco empinado, Aviado y Pared del Sol están bien, pero en los demás el pie de vía hace bajada.

Época: Debido a las distintas orientaciones de los sectores, se puede ir en verano, pero también en días soleados de primavera y otoño, ya que está bastante resguardado. Las placas suelen estar secas y se puede escalar también en invierno al sol; en cambio, Ombligo y Dos Setas sí que se mojan. Aviso: Prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vás – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

Descargar la mapa nueva de las regiones ‘Roca Verde’…

Mejorado, más facile leer y entender,  la nueva mapa de Roca Verde tiene todos los sitios que aparecen en la guía nueva.

Hay 6 nuevas escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía, un par que se nos olvidaron en la primera edición, así como muchos sectores nuevos añadidos a las escuelas existentes. En total, más de 500 vías nuevas.

New Asturias Map

Y recuerdas que puedes comprar el libro ahora aquí…

Comprar Roca Verde edición 2…

Roca Verde Edición 2 – Más detalles…

La primera edición de la guía de la Cordillera Cantábrica Roca Verde se vendió en tan solo 18 meses, razón por la que acabamos de publicar una segunda edición, completamente actualizada y revisada. Esta nueva versión incluye innumerables sectores y vías de escalada de las regiones de Asturias, Cantabria y León, en el noroeste de España, un destino perfecto para el verano.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…

Gracias al trabajo conjunto con muchos de los grupos más activos y equipadores de cada zona, hemos podido incluir seis sectores publicados por primera vez, así como nuevos sectores de zonas ya existentes, y un par de sectores clásicos no recogidos en la primera edición. Roca Verde contiene ahora más de 50 zonas de escalada, con un total de 239 sectores y 500 vías más (un centenar corresponden a la zona de Teverga), lo cual supone la asombrosa cantidad de casi 3500 vías de escalada.

Todas las reseñas han sido revisadas y actualizadas, con la novedad de que los grados de dificultad se distinguen por colores, lo cual facilita la elección del sector con una rápida ojeada. Se han añadido más fotos de excelente calidad, de las mejores vías y escaladores locales, tomadas por algunos de los mejores fotógrafos de la región en su afán de capturar la esencia de cada zona. Esta nueva edición también ofrece una visión general de la escalada en bloque en Asturias, con indicaciones sobre la localización y las reseñas de algunos de los mejores lugares para su práctica.

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias...

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias…

Por último (y tal vez por primera vez en una guía de escalada), hay códigos QR que enlazan con vídeos de vías y problemas de escalada de la región, con el fin de ofrecer una visión más profunda del ambiente en cada zona, así como un anticipo de la sensación de “sudoración en las manos”, incluso antes de visitarlas.

Gran miguelini

En resumen: más de 50 zonas, 239 sectores y casi 3500 vías de escalada, una síntesis de la escalada en bloque, enlaces a vídeos, y más de 200 fotos a todo color, que convierten a esta guía en la más vendida, imprescindible para la “región de la Roca Verde”.

La 2ª edición de Roca Verde puede adquirirse directamente  aqui al mismo precio que el anterior, 30€ así como en comercios especializados.

Roca Verde Edition 2 – more details…

The first edition of the guidebook to everybody’s new favorite Spanish climbing destination sold out in just 18 months and so Roca Verde gets a makeover. Totally revised and updated, this new version comes jam-packed with even more crags and routes across the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon in north-west Spain.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

Working with many of the most active groups and equippers from each area we have added 6 crags never before published, as well as new sectors at existing crags and a couple of classic crags missed from the first edition. Roca Verde now has over 50 crags with 239 sectors to go at; and with over 500 additional routes there’s a staggering total of nearly 3500 routes packed into this edition.

Every topo has been overhauled and updated with new colours for each grade of route: making an ‘at a glance’ assessment of each sector for your grade much easier. In addition there’s even more superb photos, from some of the regions’ best photographers, featuring some of the best routes and climbers in the area capturing the spirit of each crag. In this new edition there’s also an exclusive overview of the bouldering in Asturias; giving you directions and downloads of topos for some of the best spots.

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias...there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias...

Hay bastante búlders buenas probar en Asturias….there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias…

Finally, (and maybe a first in climbing guidebooks), there are QR codes scattered throughout the book linking to videos of various routes and boulder problems across the regions. In this way you can get an even stronger flavour of the venues and get some ‘sweaty-palm’ psyche even before you arrive.

Gran miguelini

Escanear el QR a ver el video…scan the QR code to watch the video…

 

So with over 50 crags, 239 sectors and nearly 3500 routes; an overview of the bouldering; links to videos and over 200 full colour action photos this is the definitive guide to the Roca Verde region.

Roca Verde 2nd edition is available direct here at www.rocaverdeclimbing.com and all good climbing stores.

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

James Pearson + Caroline Ciavaldini visit Roca Verde…Part 1

Wow…what a week…It’s great having visitors and showing off the place where you live – and have written a guidebook about!

But boy is it tiring…

James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini are friends of mine and were looking for a new place to visit for a recreational week of climbing after a busy month of work in England. So I decided to give them a whistle stop tour of the Roca Verde region.

IMG_9357-LoStarting in the east we stayed in La Hermida (at La Cuadrona, one of the best hotels around with ‘climber-friendly’ owners and lovely rooms) and visited some of the tufa-strewn crags in this amazing valley.

Soon after we hit the first crag (not officially on the map yet – watch this space) Caro christened this area ‘tufa-land’ and we had a great day on newly bolted lines up to 40 metres!! One with overhanging ‘tram-line’ tufas for the final 25m…

Embarrassing river crossing shot...

Embarrassing river crossing shot…

More tufas followed at Poo de Cabrales a classic destination in the shadow fo the Picos and with views of the iconic Picu Urriellu (Naranjo de Bulnes) in the background.

Checking the guide in the shadow of Bulnes...

Checking the guide in the shadow of Bulnes…

James and Caro made short work of many of the classics here but were stoked on the quality of the routes and at least one of them put up a bit of resistance – the short, thin tufa of ‘Bizcocho’ 7b+, surprising both of them with it’s difficulty. Short but no giveaway it seems.

James on Bizcocho

James on Bizcocho

They also sent Lord Byron 7c+ and few more and once again were impressed with the quality and the situation…

Day three saw us over in the west – James and Caro were ensconced in our holiday home – www.casaquiros.co.uk and we headed out to the giant cave of El Covachon in Teverga to get some steepness! James and Caro loved it and sent a bunch of classics including Mana  8a, Samba pa ti 8a, and Milenium 8a+. We also met up with locals Armando and Raul and had a great time cheering on Armando as he so nearly sent his project Macaco, 8b which crosses the giant roof.

Aramando almost getting it...but not quite...

Aramando almost getting it…but not quite…

Anyway, despite the disappointment for Aramndo it was a superb day’s climbing and James and Caro were suitably impressed with the quality and quantity of routes in the cave and once again the amazing situation overlooking the verdant valleys.

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

So after a great day we went in search of cider…